The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

December 27, 2012

Webb City's pressure defense sets tone in first-round game

By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer

NEOSHO, Mo. — Webb City’s defensive pressure sank Pierce City 54-40 in the first round of the girls division Wednesday in the Neosho Holiday Classic at Neosho Middle School.

Webb City was originally scheduled to play Forrest City (Ark.) in the first round, but Forrest City’s arrival was delayed by a snowstorm and prompted a change in the bracket.

Webb City (8-2) will play Purdy in today’s first girls game at 12:30 p.m., while Forrest City’s game against Springdale (Ark.), scheduled for 11 a.m., has been moved to 9 p.m.

A 3-pointer by Mikaela Burgess with five seconds left in the first quarter broke a 13-13 tie and began a 29-5 run by the Cardinals that stretched into the third quarter.

“We picked up (the defensive pressure) full court and we made some easy shots,” Webb City coach Brad Shorter said. “We missed a ton of easy shots early.”

Junior forward Casey Heger scored eight of her game-high 14 points during Webb City’s decisive run. Desirea Buerge, a sophomore, scored nine of her 10 points in the first half, and juniors Mikaela Burgess and Kaitlin Beason each scored nine points.

Senior guard Emily Ashley led Pierce City with 10 points, including two 3-pointers.

Christine Younker scored six of Pierce City’s first 10 points as the Eagles grabbed a 10-9 lead, and a 3-pointer by Ashley gave the Eagles their last lead of the game at 13-11.

From there, the Cardinals limited Pierce City to two field goals during a 12-minute span that ended with a basket by Krishna Merriman with five minutes left in the third quarter. By then, the Cardinals led 42-20.

“We missed easy shots early, but the defense really helped,” Shorter said. “Pierce City is a quality team. It was a physical game. The kids played hard.”

The tournament is presented by Branco Enterprises Inc. In other first-round games, Carthage’s Vanessa Pawlak scored 15 points and led the Tigers past Purdy 39-31. Preslea Reece had 22 points as McDonald County defeated Neosho 39-32. Bentonville knocked off East Newton 53-36, and Springdale toppled Seneca 50-24.